Hello UI REACH Family and Friends,

It’s our pleasure to once again invite you in for a peek at what’s happening in the program. The cold and snowy weather has not slowed us down one bit; in fact, we’re busier! We are so proud of what our current students and alumni are achieving, and we are equally thrilled with the direction the program is taking. One very exciting piece of news is the BTN (Big Ten Network) story on the UI REACH program airing on February 19th (10:30 p.m.) featuring one of our students and his role with the men’s basketball team. Be sure to tune in! As you read through this issue, if an idea or thought occurs on how you can support our efforts, please call, write, or email. We’d love to hear from you! Please also feel free to share the link to this and other editions of our newsletter with others in your networks.


Bill signature

Bill Loyd
UI REACH Program Director

Alumni Spotlight

Extend group meeting
Twelve UI REACH alumni who live in the area met recently at a local restaurant for great memories, conversation and pizza. This Iowa City Reconnect Club meets monthly, typically somewhere close to campus. If alumni groups from other states have connected, we’d love to hear from you! Interested in starting a ReConnect Club in your area? Please contact Brian Campbell at 319-335-7227 to learn how.


Also in the spotlight this issue is Ellie Goldberg (Class of 2019). While at UI REACH, Goldbereg completed several food service internships. Upon graduation, she attended a nine-week culinary institute in her hometown. The chef in charge of the program was very helpful to her and helped her find a cooking job at the restaurant at Lamb’s Farm in Libertyville, Illinois. She will assist in salad preparation and sandwich making. Her goal was to secure a cooking position and so this really meets her ultimate goals. Goldberg was also featured in a video production called “She Inspires.” Goldberg’s mom, Dr. Susan Sheinkop, who is a new UI REACH advisory board member, shared the following with us. Enjoy!

Ellie Goldberg
Hi Bill,
Ellie was recently interviewed for an organization called the She Inspires Project. This was all Ellie, totally unscripted. As usual, she is quite entertaining, and this is an amazing testimonial for [UI] REACH. I hope you enjoy it and will share it with the REACH family. Enjoy the new school year.
Susie Goldberg

Watch Ellie's video.

ACT WorkKeys Initiative Launched at UI REACH

Year 2, 3, and 4 students returned to campus from winter break and got to work right away. Under the supervision of staff led by Jennifer Cremers and Lauren Bruno, these 26 students took their first stab at taking the WorkKeys assessment. WorkKeys is a system of assessments and curriculum that build and measure essential workplace skills that can affect performance and increase opportunities for career changes and advancement. The assessments measure performance in three areas: graphic literacy, workplace documents, and applied math. Students can score at levels ranging from bronze to platinum. By completing the assessments, students can earn the National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®).

NCRC is a portable, evidence-based credential that certifies the essential skills for workplace success. Employers look for it from job candidates, whether they come directly from high school, work-based learning programs, or through postsecondary paths, because it is a valid predictor of job performance.

We are thrilled to announce that 10 students scored at the bronze level, two at the silver level, and one at the gold level! Next steps include taking classes and self-studies to increase scores for all students. Imagine the possibilities by the end of the spring semester! UI REACH plans to offer this opportunity to all enrolled students in Fall 2020.

Priorities Update

University of Iowa College of Education REACH program. education.uiowa.edu/reach
The WorkKeys is just one of the priorities for UI REACH that have been targeted this year. A few other updates include:
  • We achieved 100 percent retention of students over the past semester and enrollment in years 3 and 4 has increased by 25 percent over the previous year.
  • Our staff is the program’s biggest asset, and so retention is important to and for us. Market scale salary adjustments were achieved by transitioning staff to a School-Year Appointment (10 months) without changing their salaries. This helped to get our staff salaries into better pay ranges, keeping us competitive with similar jobs. An interim plan is already in place, and full implementation will occur as of summer 2021.
  • Year 3 and 4 enhancements are in full swing with WorkKeys implementation, designing instruction for industry recognized credentials and increased paid internships.

The other large priority update crosses between three priority areas: self-determination, best practices, and future directions.  UI REACH will launch a student-centered planning process in the Fall of 2020. The process will result in individual goals for each student in each of our priority areas (academics, student life, and career). The student will be “in the driver’s seat” for the planning sessions and will enlist support from persons in their relationship circles to achieve their goals during their time at UI REACH. Being in the driver’s seat means that students will be supported to take positive control in planning for a college experience of a lifetime. Goals can include anything from the types of traditional class a student wishes to take, the types of internships they would like to experience, the UI student organizations they wish to join, or the type of credential they wish to pursue. This is another step towards self-advocacy as well, given that the student will say what is important to them in balance with the many things in the program that are good for them. This is a skill that our students will use many times both while at UI REACH and beyond. Additional details will be presented at our summer and fall orientation sessions.

Successful Big Tour Days Continue

So far, our tour days have been amazing and have produced amazing results. Please help us spread the word about the tours days and encourage interested persons to use the quick and easy sign up for the tours on our website.

Upcoming Spring Family Tour Days
3/23, 4/17 - 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
UI REACH Offices S229 Lindquist Center
Call 319-384-2127 or register online.

UI REACH on the Road

Erica Kaldenberg
Lauren Bruno
Erica Kaldenberg and Laura Bruno presented their research findings at the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) Special Education Convention & Expo in Portland, Oregon Feb. 5th-8th, 2020. Erica Kaldenberg, UI REACH associate research scientist, and Lauren Bruno, UI REACH postdoctoral scholar, held two different sessions for special education teachers, administrators, researchers, families, and advocates. Both presentations provided audience members an introduction to the UI REACH program as well as opportunities for attendees to ask questions about the University of Iowa program. While the sessions focused on assistive technology (session 1) and program outcomes (session 2), the majority of the conversation focused on the UI REACH program itself and what we do on a day-to-day basis. In 2010, the UI REACH Program became one of the first 25 programs to receive federal funds under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, solidifying our commitment to establish, refine, and support inclusive postsecondary education nationally. Prospective families and other transition programs for students with intellectual disabilities (TPSIDs) continue to look to UI REACH as a leader in the field, and the CEC Convention is a great place to further these meaningful connections. Not only did Kaldeberg and Bruno represent the UI REACH program, Kaldenberg, president of the Iowa CEC Chapter, and Bruno, vice President of the Iowa CEC Chapter, represented the entire state at the Representative Assembly on Friday, Feb. 7th. The session focused on understanding the current needs of the special education field and how best to respond.

The UI REACH Advisory Board Welcomes Three New Members

Susan Sheinkop
Susan Sheinkop is a pediatrician based in the Chicago area and the co-founder of Pedia Trust, the largest independent pediatric practice in Illinois. Susan has worked on several boards, committees and community initiatives and continues to serve as preceptor for medical students and physician assistant students. Sheinkop’s daughter is a UI REACH alumnus and so she believes that serving on our board is a great way to continue to support a program with tremendous benefit potential for students with disabilities. Susan is married to Jay Goldberg, who is a professor at Marquette University, and they have three daughters.

Derrick Willis
Derrick Willis, is the director of Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Willis formerly served as director of urban mission at the Institute for Human Development, Missouri’s UCEDD. Willis’s background includes 32 years’ experience working at local not-for-profits, in state government and higher education. He is a past recipient of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Multicultural Award for Leadership in Diversity and a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities. Willis lives in Iowa City and is raising his grandson.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams is CEO of W2A, which specializes in executive counsel and strategic advice to elected officials and CEOs. Tony has helped resolve public policy challenges for almost every major industry in the Pacific Northwest. Tony helped launch W2A after a 15-year career on Capitol Hill, where he managed political campaigns, worked as a press secretary and served as Chief of Staff to a U.S. Senator. During his 18 years as W2A’s Chairman, he has worked for several “Northwest blue chip” companies. Williams and his wife, Cindi, live in Clyde Hill, Washington with their oldest son who is a third-year student at UI REACH and their youngest son who is a high school junior.

UI REACH Students Elect New Student Council Members and Officers

UI REACH student council 2020

In its first ever Student Council election, UI REACH students voted in nine council members to serve this academic year. The council was initiated in the previous year when students were appointed by advisors after expressing interest in serving. This year’s council has representatives from each cohort. Members pictured above are (from left to Right) Kate Wood, Ben Dahlager, Laura Laube, Michael Maigaard, Herky (ex officio member!), Danny Huyer (president), Robbie Carpenter, Sam Rame, David Flower-Carothers (secretary), and Michael Vratsinas (vice president). This year’s council has big plans, including attending the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. in March, providing feedback on student survey results, and producing a “good neighbor” video to help student relations in the residence halls. Congratulations to all council members!

Rays of REACH

“Rays of REACH is a student organization with the mission of increasing campus and community awareness about UI REACH and disability mindfulness. Our ultimate goal is to create and enhance relationships between and among traditional University of Iowa students, UI REACH students, and alumni. Rays of REACH had a successful Fall semester including walking in the 2019 University of Iowa Homecoming Parade and sponsoring our first successful Homecoming Tailgate (pictured below). We also had a Stranger Things themed fall dance where many of the members dressed up in 80’s themed outfits, ate Eggo waffles, took pictures with the Stranger Things alphabet wall, and danced the night away. Most important, the students worked very hard this past semester to fundraise for the Sally Pederson REACH Scholarship, which provides support for students who need tuition assistance to enroll in the UI REACH program. We surpassed our initial goal of $8,000 and in total raised $9,552! We cannot wait for another exciting semester to come!”

Submitted by Jessica Freese, Chapter Co-President

Rays of REACH gathering


Paper snowflake display
UI REACH students and staff lent their time and talents to create colorful snowflakes for the Iowa City Bird House during the holidays. The “Bird House,” a community-based not for profit end-of-life home, focuses on the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of their guests and their loved ones. Located here in Johnson County in a beautiful wooded lot north of Mayflower Residence Hall, the Bird House is a 5-bedroom home that opened in April of 2016, and to date, has served more than 250 adults.

“To our UI REACH friends, thank you for your beautiful snowflakes that decorated our Bird House. They brought so much colorful joy to our guests at the Bird House over the holidays”.
Rebecca, Volunteer Coordinator, The Bird House

Submitted by James Verry, Administrative Support Coordinator

Staff Kudos

Kimberly Hanrahan
Kim Hanrahan, Student Support Coordinator, was recently honored with the College of Education SPOT Award by her leadership colleagues.

Hanrahan came to UI REACH in August 2019, hit the ground running and never let up. She has been a tremendous asset to our team in the resources she brings to the students and staff. She has a huge student case load and always makes time for all of her students AND those on the caseloads of others, no matter how frequently they drop by. She has had great impact on working with the students from a strength-based approach, seeing the best in them even in their worst moments. That inspires a sense of confidence and self-worth in the students that encourages them to be their best. On several occasions, Hanrahan has dropped what she was doing after office hours to meet with an upset parent or student to provide comfort and reassurance to them. She has inspired staff by being a resource for them as well; offering guidance in handling difficult situations involving students and families. She is the champion of identifying resources that will benefit students, families, and staff. Recent acquisition of two social work student interns to help with a variety of student needs is proof of her constant outreach and collaboration. Honrahan has partnered with other campus offices to create increased support options for our students. Ongoing collaboration with the MI-ID program and University Counseling Services (UCS) is producing small group sessions wherein students can discuss issues of concern. Although she’s only been here for a short while, she’s already making her mark and leaving a lasting impression, and we are so very fortunate to have her on Team UI REACH.

Kate's Corner

Kate Wood at baking internship
Here’s a great recipe from 3rd year student, Kate Wood who has worked at several bakeries during her internships and loves to cook. Kate will be graduating in May and hopes to find a job where she can showcase her culinary skills.   

This cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. This is one of the first cheesecakes that I have made because it’s easy to make and it is yummy.  Here is the recipe that is so good:

 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
½ cup of sugar
½ tablespoon of vanilla
2 eggs
¾ cup of miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 graham pie crust (6 oz)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat ingredients into a large bowl with a mixer and then stir in ½ cup of the chips. Pour mixture into crust and sprinkle remaining chips on top. Bake for 40 minutes, cool and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy! 

Submitted by Kate Wood, 3rd Year Student

Missed an issue? Be sure to check out the UI REACH Newsletter Archive for previous editions of the UI REACH newsletter and feel free to share the link with your friends and family. People can also be added to our newsletter notifications by emailing us at REACH@uiowa.edu.

Research Corner


Please help us to get feedback in a marketing survey by sharing the following information on your social media outlets, especially family forums of prospective students who may benefit from attending UI REACH. 

Provide us your feedback! The University of Iowa is conducting a survey to assist in ongoing planning efforts for its UI REACH program, a specialized college certificate program for students ages 18-25 with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. The results of this survey will ensure that components of the program are aligned to the goals and needs of students and their families. Please take a few minutes today to add your voice to this important survey. Rest assured that responses will remain anonymous and confidential; no personally identifiable information will be collected and results will only be reported in the aggregate.

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University of Tenneessee, Knoxville Survey

Seeking young adults (aged 13-24) with intellectual disability for survey completion!

A doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is seeking to gain information that will help identify the need for social media safety instruction to be given to young adults with intellectual disability. If you, your child, or someone you know receives agency and/or special education services under the category of intellectual disability and is between the age of 13 and 24, they are eligible to complete the survey. For their participation they will receive a free T-shirt! Survey completion will take 10-20 minutes.

The survey was created to be accessible. Picture responses, audio read aloud options, and video directions are used to allow independent completion. The following link contains a survey cover page with more information about this survey. After the legal guardian question is answered, consent forms will be presented. The survey will begin after participation agreement is given.

Roadmap for the Future: Supporting Successful Transitions

It’s that time of year where students will be preparing to graduate from the University of Iowa. In order to support successful transition, we invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 10th, 6:30pm CST for a live webinar with the Career & Transition Staff to hear about our person-centered planning initiatives and also what to expect for the upcoming transition meetings. Transition meetings are typically led by the students where they will share about their goals for the future and present next steps to reaching these goals.  There will be an opportunity at the end of the webinar for questions. If you're interested in signing up, please email us at REACH@uiowa.edu. We hope to see you online!

Spring Calendar

Wednesday, February 18th : BTN story premiere 10:30 p.m.

Friday, March 13th :  Spring break begins. Students check out of the halls by 7:00 pm

Sunday, March 22nd: Students may return to the halls after 1:00 pm.

Monday, March 23rd : Classes resume

Monday, March 23rd : Family Visit Day

Monday, March 23rd : Family Visit Day

Monday, April 17th : Family Visit Day

Friday, May 8th UI REACH Classes end for spring Semester

Friday, May 8th UI REACH Convocation 4:30 pm

Friday, May 8th or Saturday, May 9th Students check out of residence hall for the year

Please refer to the calendar page on our website for a full listing of events and additional details.

Contributors - UI REACH Staff

  • Brian Campbell
  • Erica Kaldenberg
  • Lauren Bruno
  • Jessica Freese
  • Jim Verry
  • Kate Wood
  • Susan Sheinkop
  • Bill Loyd